Mark 7:1-23 (ESV)

This has been weighing on my mind in past months, in consideration of both my own mindset and in observation of others. I won’t attempt to embellish it with any of my own commentary or interpretation, but I’ll reproduce it here in case it might be helpful to anyone else. For background, this passage details a confrotation between Pharisees (enforcers of both written law in the Jewish Torah, as well as unsourced laws from their own sect’s oral traditions) and Jesus over the morality of his followers.

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

3 comments

  1. Hola, que tal?
    Okay, I just want to say how much I enjoyed yr photos of Liverpool, Amsterdam, and Prague.
    Did you visit the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam?
    Love, Mom

  2. Zeke, I wonder why this is troubling you. But I looked it up in my favorite source for Bible research, the very old (1950) “Dartmouth Bible.” They discuss it with Matthew 15:11. “This seeming abrogation of dietary cleanliness is regarded by many scholars as either an exaggerated form of an utterance by Jesus or a later expression of the anti-Pharisaic attitude of Gentile churches.Evidence is lacking that Jesus denied the food codes of the Pentateuch and no student has suggested that he would have approved the eating of forbidden meat from swine or camels…. If this verse is a statement by Jesus himself and was so regarded by his immediate followers, it is difficult to explain the controversies over foods reported in Acts 10 and Gal. 2.” But maybe you are concerned about the evil things within?

    1. I wouldn’t say this passage itself was “troubling” me. I think I saw something in it that seemed very similar to present-day Christianity: Pharisaical dogmas and “moral” codes stamped with divine mandate and passed off as if God created them himself, all the while deceiving many adherents and keeping them receiving Christ’s true message.
      I feel like one of Christ’s biggest teachings was about the uselessness of religious practice and dogmatism as ways to achieve salvation, and yet almost immediately, so many of his followers fell into the very thing that he was denouncing. It makes about as much sense as all of those Che Guevara T-shirts lining the racks of capitalist shopping malls!
      Does that better explain where I’m coming from?

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